BLM releases preferred route for Idaho-Wyoming power line

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 10 2012 10:05 p.m. MDT

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — The federal Bureau of Land Management has chosen a preferred route for a 1,100-mile high-voltage transmission line expected to run through southern Idaho and southern Wyoming.

The preferred alternative picked by the agency for the so-called Gateway West Transmission Line attempts to avoid critical sage grouse habitat and sensitive archaeological sites.

The project is proposed by Rocky Mountain Power and Idaho Power Co. and stretches from Glenrock, Wyo., to Murphy, Idaho, southwest of Boise and is projected to upgrade electricity distribution in both states.

Early routes were met with opposition and criticism by citizens, farmers and government officials worried about the line being built on private land.

The BLM's preferred option shows the line will cross about 25 miles of public land and 100 miles of BLM acreage in Cassia County, one early hotbed of opposition.

The BLM still could make changes before it finishes its environmental impact statement later this year, but every mile adds $1.5 million to $2.5 million to the utilities' costs of construction, state officials said. Those extra costs are then passed on through consumer rates.

The BLM will begin taking public comment on the preferred route after making the environmental review public, BLM spokeswoman Beverly Gorney told The Times News.

— Associated Press

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